NBA 2016/17 – Betting Preview

NBA 2016/17 – Betting Preview

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The Golden State Warriors looked on course for back-to-back titles having set a new regular season wins’ record (73-9). They led the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-1 in the finals, before a remarkable comeback, which seen the Warriors lose two games in their own arena as LeBron James delivered Cleveland its first NBA Championship.

The off-season that followed featured one of the most controversial moves in recent memory as Kevin Durant joined the Warriors. His decision caused ripples around the league, and we now wait to see if the Warriors “Super Team” can lift the Larry O’Brien trophy once again. We give you the lowdown on all 32 teams and their chances this season.

Eastern Conference – Atlantic Division 

Toronto Raptors (56-26, eliminated in Conference Finals)

The Raptors finally ended a 16 year wait for a playoff series win, and in the process saved Dwayne Casey his job. They didn’t make life easy for themselves though, fighting through two Game 7’s before eventually succumbing to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Final. They gained credit for the endeavour, forcing 6 games in that series. The Raptors look unlikely to improve though, losing Bismack Biyombo in free agency. Kyle Lowry is now 30 years of age, and his stamina was questioned throughout the post-season. The bar has been raised significantly on the back of a franchise best season, but Toronto fans should still expect playoff action in the Air Canada Centre come April.

Verdict: Playoffs

Boston Celtics (48-34, eliminated in Playoff First Round)

The Boston Celtics are a team primed to contend for Championship honours, and last season’s performances displayed just that. Their playoff defeat to the Hawks while disappointing, was not a failure as they suffered multiple injuries during that series. The No.3 pick in the draft, Jaylen Brown & the arrival of Al Horford in free agency has made the Celtics a legitimate contender in the East. Cleveland will still be hot favourites, but their roster & coaching staff are not to be underestimated.

Verdict: Playoffs

New York Knicks (32-50, did not make playoffs)

The 2016/17 season will surely end a three-year playoff drought for the famous franchise. The Knicks made huge moves in the off-season, securing Bulls pairing of Joakim Noah & Derrick Rose. Rose, MVP 5 seasons ago, has struggled with injury since but if he does come back to form, combined with the talent of Anthony & Porzingis, will make this team a serious contender in the East. The addition of Hornacek as head coach will be seen as a positive but both the starting five & coaching setup will need time to gel, but expect Madison Square Garden to be a hub of activity in April.

Verdict: Playoffs

Brooklyn Nets (21-61, did not make playoffs)

The Nets second era in Brooklyn is underway, with a complete overhaul in infrastructure & coaching staff this off-season. Their roster is weak, and will struggle to get anywhere near playoff contention, even in the East. They’ll be dependent on Brook Lopez & Jeremy Lin, with addition of former #1 pick Anthony Bennett an unknown one. This is his fourth team since entering the league in 2013, and he joins a franchise also in a massive transition phase.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

Philadelphia 76ers (10-72, did not make playoffs)

The rebuild phase has dragged on for far too long, but finally seems to be turning a corner. Joel Embiid was drafted by Philadelphia in June 2014, but will only make his first appearance in the league next week. The 76ers ten wins was their worst performance since 72/73 season, and while they should surpass this total in 16/17, they lack serious offensive firepower, the addition of Ben Simmons (#1 in draft) to the veteran experience of Bayless & Henderson won’t strike fear into defences around the league, and with Simmons out indefinitely with a broken foot, the 76ers scoring struggles look set to continue.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

 

Eastern Conference – Central Division

Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25, Won NBA Finals)

Cleveland have kept roster changes to a premium, adding Dunleavy & Anderson to a talented roster as they search for back-to-back championships. Tyronn Lue took over the reins of this team in January, and his low-key, freedom first approach has served the team well. There’s plenty of mileage on this roster though, with two consecutive appearances in the finals and with LeBron James turning 32 years old, expect plenty of rest nights as they cruise through the regular season. They’ll have some new challengers in the Eastern Conference this season, but Irving & James formed an unstoppable combination in the 15/16 post-season, if they hit that form again they won’t be beaten.

Verdict: Third straight finals appearance

Indiana Pacers (45-37, lost in Playoff First Round)

Pacers star Paul George returned to the setup last season, and despite his performances they finished just 8 games over .500. They threw everything at the Raptors though, eventually crashing out in Game 7. They’ve boosted their offense, adding Jeff Teague to the roster, and an upward curve in production from Monta Ellis would be very welcome. Their defence is young with plenty of room for development under Nate McMillan. Top four seeding very much the aim in Indianapolis this season.

Verdict: Playoffs

Detroit Pistons (44-38, lost in Playoff First Round)

The development of the Pistons last season was a success, jumping from 29 to 44 victories. They showed plenty of grit & fight despite being swept by the Cavs, and have plenty of positives going forward. Andre Drummond’s pinned as the franchise player, but the talents of Caldwell-Pope & Tobias Harris spurred the Pistons on down the stretch last season. They’re still a couple of big players away from becoming legitimate challengers, but under the guidance of Jeff Van Gundy, a higher seeding is a realistic target.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

Chicago Bulls (42-40 did not make playoffs)

Losing Rose & Noah left shockwaves in Chicago, but Dwayne Wade’s arrival was an unexpected surprise. Pressure will be on Jimmy Butler after a dubious first season as leader on this team, but Rondo & Wade should ease the burden at the shooting end. Wade played 74 games last season, and Chicago will need to take care of the veteran and restrict his minutes. Michael Carter Williams is another new addition but he’s struggled with injuries & poor shooting since his rookie season. They are struggling for depth and a low seeding will be the aim after missing the post-season completely last year.

Verdict: Playoffs

Milwaukee Bucks (33-49, did not make playoffs)

The Bucks are never an alluringly prospect for players in free agency, so bold draft picks have been key. The slip from 41 victories to 33 was a worrying sign they’ve yet to address, and they’ll do well to reach the 30-win mark in 16/17. They’ve lost top scorer Khris Middleton to a hip injury for six months, and the new $100 million contract extension for Giannis Antetokonmpo may not lead to much impact on the court as the Bucks have no major threats to spread the floor with. This season looks more like a preparation course for 17/18.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

 

Eastern Conference – Southeast Division

Miami Heat (48-34, eliminated in Conference Semi-Finals)

The big three of Wade, James & Bosh have all parted ways, and the Miami heat face a huge challenge in the coming seasons. The Heat signed Whiteside to a huge $98 million deal, without the necessary achievements to warrant such a contract. Two starters from their playoff run, Deng & Joe Johnson, both left in free agency too.  Dragic & Whiteside will need to step up and lead this young roster. The Heat find themselves not targeting a deep run for the first time since 07/08 season.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

Atlanta Hawks (48-34, eliminated in Conference Semi-Finals)

Atlanta’s aim to reach the playoffs for the 10th straight season is almost a certainty. They’ve reached just one Conference Final in that time, but there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic again this season. The Hawks took the risk and allowed Al Horford to join the Celtics, opting to bring Dwight Howard back to the city of his birth. Hawks have a nice mix of veterans which will help Howard and new starting PG Denis Schroder settle. Cleveland have ruled the roost in the East, expect Atlanta to fall short yet again.

Verdict: Will make playoffs

Charlotte Hornets (48-34, lost in Playoff First Round)

The Hornets took big steps last season, compiling 48 wins before just losing out to the Heat in Game Seven. They’ve reshaped some careers in recent years, and the potential impact of Roy Hibbert & Marco Belinelli will hinge on their ability to do it again. Nicolas Batum has a new deal, $120 million to be exact. He’s shown brilliance in patches, but if the Hornets want to make further progress their stars must shine this season.

Verdict: Will make playoffs

Washington Wizards (41-41, did not make playoffs)

The Wizards campaign hinges on the ability of John Wall & Bradley Beal to finally gel together and produce their best basketball. Efforts to protect the rim have been boosted by the addition of Ian Mahinmi but the aim is clear: get back to the playoffs. This responsibility lies on the shoulders of Wall, Beal & Gortat, and new head coach Scott Brooks knows the Wizards cannot take a step backwards for a second straight season. Beal has reached the 65 game mark just once in four years, he must stay healthy.

Verdict: Playoffs

Orlando Magic (35-47, did not make playoffs)

The trade of Oladipo to Oklahoma was very surprising, considering how highly he was rated by the Orlando front office. This team is unpredictable, but the additions of Serge Ibaka & Bismack Biyombo gives the Magic some of the best rim prediction in the league. Playoff hopes are dependent on how quickly the new parts come together and their ability to win games. Their defence should be the most improved in the league, though improvements will be needed on the shooting end.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

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